That means only the ‘greenest’ zero and low emission vehicles can operate in London without paying the £10 a day charge.
Currently only electric vehicles can meet this new low target so the many low emission diesel, petrol and hybrids now incur the new charge. That is a real blow to hybrid owners in particular and it is estimated that around 20,000 drivers who were previously well within the guidelines will now have to pay.
Of course this only applies to London dwellers and commuters so do hybrids really have a future for those of us using them day-to-day in other parts of the country? Hybrids still offer significant tax savings for motorists throughout the country with little or no road tax and a much reduced Benefit-in-Kind tax levy for business users and of course the potential for using less fuel.
The Peugeot 3008 mid-sized SUV/crossover is a case in point. This is a range of popular petrol and diesel mainstream models but also it includes the lesser selling Hyrid4 version, the first diesel-electric hybrid, to enter the market.
Essentially the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 uses a 2.0-litre, four cylinder turbodiesel 163hp diesel engine with Stop and Start function to drive the front wheels through a 6-speed electronically controlled clutchless gearbox. The rear wheels are driven by a 37hp electric motor automatically as and when required and can be selected manually to offer limited 4x4 traction in adverse road/off road conditions. There is a rotary control switch which the driver can use to select Auto where the system controls the input from the engine and electric motor, Sport mode offers quicker gearchanges and couples the engine and electric motor for sportier acceleration, there is a 4WD mode which switches in the electric motor to drive the rear wheels and the engine to drive the front wheels and finally there is a ZEV mode, zero emissions, which uses only 100% electric power driving the rear wheels with a range of up to two miles before the engine switches in to recharger the battery.
The big question is, does the relatively expensive 3008 Hybrid4 priced from £27,245 offer any savings over its conventionally powered stablemates?
As a price comparison the Peugeot 3008 five door, five seater, C-segment crossover models with the 1.6-litre 120hp petrol models start from £17,650, 1.6 HDI 115hp diesels from £19,445, 2.0-litre 150hp diesel from £21,850 and the top of the conventional range 2.0 HDI 163hp diesel with automatic transmission costs £24,650.
In terms of purchase cost the Hybrid4 is significantly more expensive to buy but with CO2 emissions of 88 to 99g/km, depending on wheel size, it is clearly more fuel and tax efficient. Road tax for both the Hybrid4 in Active and Allure specification levels is £0 and company car users will pay 10% Benefit-in-Kind Tax for the Active version with 16-inch wheels and 11% for the Allure version with 17-inch wheels. By comparison petrol and diesel models the VED road tax can be as high as £175 and BIK company car tax up to 26% depending on the engine and specification chosen.
As for fuel economy for the petrol and diesel models, in the official Combined Cycle this ranges from 40.9 to 53,2mpg but the Hybrid4s give 83.1mpg for the Active model or 74.3mpg for the Allure.
On paper the Hybrid 4 offers far better fuel economy but how does that work in real-life conditions? I have just had a week using the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 Active for a family break in sunny Cornwall where SUV and crossover vehicles seemed to be the most popular form of transport for the many other visitors. There is no doubt that such SUV/crossover vehicles of all types from the new supermini size through to the big heavyweights with petrol and diesel engines are growing in popularity to meet our family transport needs.
The whole point of me using the 3008 Hybrid4 for my motoring needs was to get an idea on just how fuel efficient it would be in real-life conditions. Covering 240miles using motorways and the main A30 dual carriageway the 70mph cruising economy was a less than appealing 42.7mpg because at that speed the diesel engine was mainly driving the front wheels with minimal input from the electric motor. When using the winding Cornish narrow hilly roads plus local stop start town traffic over 200 miles, this improved to 57.5mpg. This was because the electric motor came into use on a very regular basis and the engine braking from going down steep hills kept the battery fully charged so there seemed to be plenty of electric power for use on the flat and with the extra power boost going up hills or just using electric power in low speed town conditions. After a further 240 miles return motorway journey home the overall average fuel consumption for nearly 700 miles was 49.5mpg, well down on the official Combined Cycle figure of 83.1mpg. This average 49.5mpg was only marginally better than the 46.3mpg official figure for the front wheel drive 3008 powered by the same 2.0-litre diesel 163hp with automatic transmission but without the Hybrid4 electric rear wheel drive function.
On the face of it the extra £2,595 to £3,595 cost of the 3008 Hybrid4s (depending on spec) over the non hybrid 2.0-litre 163hp diesel does not add up in terms of huge fuel savings and it is no longer Congestion Charge exempt. But it has big advantages in terms of savings in road tax and company car tax and a small advantage in acceleration and smooth driveability plus whatever value can be added for the 4WD function.
There is no easy answer as to which 3008 is best but for business users the Hybrid4 version will appeal because of the tax savings. Retail buyers will most likely opt for the less expensive to buy petrol or diesel two wheel drive versions. Less happy will be London residents or commuters who no longer benefit from the zero cost Congestion Charge.
Whichever model you choose with the 3008 you get a versatile five door family car with SUV/crossover styling, a high level of specification, a comfortable classy cab, reasonable load space and above all its pretty good to drive. They are very popular, the number on our UK roads prove that and used ones seem to get snapped up pretty quickly. I’ve always been a fan of the Peugeot 3008; I like its size, comfort, refinement and versatile load space. The only missing feature for mainstream models has been the lack of a proper 4x4 function, although Peugeot does off Grip Control on some versions as an extra cost option. The Hybrid4 version addresses that but with a significant price penalty.
MILESTONES. Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 Active. Price: £27,245. Powertrain: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder 163hp turbodiesel driving the front wheels + a 37hp electric motor driving the rear wheels, 300Nm (221lb ft) of torque, 6-speed electronic clutches manual gearbox. Performance: 118mph, 0-62mph 8.5 seconds, 83.1mpg official Combined Cycle (49.5mpg overall average on test), CO2 88g/km, VED road tax £0, BIK company car tax 10%. Insurance group: 25E. Warranty: 3-years unlimited mileage. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,365, W 1,837mm, H 1,639mm, boot/load space 354-1,435-litres, braked towing weight 500kg. For: Incurs low taxes, low CO2 emissions, electric power boosts acceleration and gives 4x4 traction function, electric power only drive mode, very well equipped, classy and comfortable, easy to drive. Against: Expensive to buy, no longer London Congestion Charge free, real-life fuel economy does not come close to official figures, no spare wheel, very low towing weight. Miles Better News Agency